Can Ronnie O’Sullivan return to London and defend his Masters crown in 2017?
Lee Gormley | 11 January 2017
O’Sullivan out to defend Masters crown
Following the conclusion of the UK Championship, the snooker season continues into 2017 with the latest Masters tournament breaking off at Alexandra Palace in London.
A year on from clinching his sixth Masters crown in the capital, Ronnie O’Sullivan will return to the venue of his triumph aiming to successfully defend his title in a tournament he relishes.
The non-ranking, invitational event often sees the Rocket flourish and bring out his best game, and the five-time world champion will enter proceedings at 11/4 with Coral to make history with another victory.
O’Sullivan is currently tied for most ever victories in the Masters with legendary Scotsman Stephen Hendry on six, with another success in January set to see him earn another slice of history by edging ahead in the overall wins.
Rocket to launch in London
With two wins and a semi-final appearance secured in the last three years, the Rocket has been saving some of his best performances for the prestigious invitational event.
The now 41-year-old has recently claimed he cannot compete with the sport’s biggest current stars at the top level anymore, following a UK Championship final defeat to reigning Crucible kingpin Mark Selby and a Scottish Open loss to John Higgins.
“I haven’t had any good results but that tells you where I am with my game,” he stated. “I am not going to turn my back on the game yet,” said O’Sullivan, who revealed he enjoys punditry more than playing.
“I enjoy playing but I am probably not good enough to compete with the best players in the world because they are at their peak.
“I am probably not good enough to compete…”
“I will still keep playing and hopefully will get a result, and if I don’t I am just enjoying playing.”
Although, his showings on the way to the final at the Barbican Centre in York were superb, as well as in the Home Nations Series event in Glasgow, and he is a short 5/4 to reach the Masters final again London.
The prolific break-builder faces off with English Open victor Liang Wenbo in his opening clash at the Masters, with the latter Chinese cueist being 10/3 to spring a surprise and stun the defending title holder.
Wenbo has been on a strong run of form himself but, with O’Sullivan seemingly focusing a lot of his energy in targeting the Triple Crown events at this stage of his illustrious career, the latter looks more than capable of prevailing.
Seventh heaven for O’Sullivan?
World number one Selby could be the one to beat again of the 16 players ready to take to the baize in London, with his dominant showings of late seeing him instated as the 7/2 second-favourite behind O’Sullivan.
The Rocket eased to a supreme 10-1 victory over Barry Hawkins in last season’s final, producing a masterclass to down the Hawk, and he could yet exhibit further class in 2017’s edition of the coveted tournament.
This upcoming Masters event begins on January 15th and concludes with the final on 22nd at the Alexandra Palace, where O’Sullivan will look to successfully defend his crown and become the record holder of this prestigious invitational tournament.
Full 2017 Masters draw
Ronnie O’Sullivan (1) v Liang Wenbo
Mark Selby (2) v Mark Williams
Stuart Bingham (3) v Joe Perry
John Higgins (4) v Mark Allen
Judd Trump (5) v Marco Fu
Ding Junhui (6) v Kyren Wilson
Shaun Murphy (7) v Barry Hawkins
Neil Robertson (8) v Ali Carter